Giving Mexican-American Youth a Sense of Cultural Identity in the US Victor Guzman
Con cuernos de chivo y basuca en la nuca/ Equipped with guns and bazookas Volando cabezas al que se atraviesa/ Heads fly of those who stand in the way Somos sanguinarios locos bien ondeados /we shed blood, crazy in the head Nos gusta matar / we like to kill
Pa dar levantotes somos los mejores /we’re the best ones to get the job done Siempre en caravana toda mi plebada /always on caravans with all my people Bien empecherados blindados / bullet-proof vested
Y listos para ejecutar/ and ready to execute
Despite Mexico’s symbolic musical representative of the Mariachi band, the more modern music genre of narcocorridos has become more prevalent amongst today’s Mexican-American youth in the United States. The lyrics above are a preview of what the narcocorrido is- a genre known for its story-telling demeanor, its main instruments of the tuba, and accordion, and its lyrical content: the lifestyle and mentality of a drug trafficker in a Mexican drug cartel. Very recently, the narcocorrido has gained much popularity and has even evolved into its own very distinct genre. It’s popularity, however, also gives rise to immense criticism of the genre’s explicit lyrics. The evolution of the corrido into a blood-curling yet catchy style of song has led to two different results. The controversial narcocorridos have gained enough popularity to be arguably giving druglords more fame and power. On the other hand, however, they have also given youth a means from which to gain a sense of cultural identification on the U.S. side of the border. Narcocorridos are a more explicit and more recent version of the traditional corrido that historically dates back to earlier Spanish ballad styles (Wald 3). The Spanish word corrido means two things. It can either signify a story that is orally told, or it can also be used to describe something that is continuous. Putting these two definitions together, we come up with the corrido lyrical style, which tells a continuous story throughout the duration of the song. In order to understand the evolution of the corrido, it is important to be able to understand US-Mexico relations, especially when it comes to the treatment of the Mexican campesino or rural worker in the U.S. A clear understanding of the historical struggle of the poor campesino will make it easier to grasp the perspective that is taken when the lyrics talk about all of the hardships and situations that are mentioned in most of these corridos. Traditional corridos have always been known as the story telling musical genre. Originally, corridos were not their own genre. They were a lyrical style of storytelling that was incorporated into songs of different Mexican regional genres. Overall, the corrido was utilized to make a social statement. Corrido stories in the early 1900s to 1960s talked about topics from love ballads, to life in the borderlands and resistance to oppression from predatory and hypocritical laws and policies in the United States. The result of these laws and policies has contributed immensely to the most popular topics that are written and sung about in early corrido styles. One of the earliest examples of this is the result from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 in which Mexicans living on the newly annexed U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border were by law supposed to be given U.S. citizenship and first-class status. Many Mexicans were stripped of their land and were never given the citizen status that was promised to them by the treaty, which is a common topic of traditional corridos. Corridos were very political and could be used as a temperature check for the social, political and economic situation of rural folk in Mexico. The political-economic state in the third-world country was...
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